In this day and age of Wireless Emergency Alerts
, Internet, etc. why would you want a radio?
Because Internet and cell service are very likely to be out in an emergency.
The NOAA Weather Radio
network provides voice broadcasts of local and coastal marine forecasts on a continuous cycle. The forecasts are produced by local National Weather Service Forecast Offices
. Coastal stations also broadcast predicted tides
and real time observations from buoys and coastal meteorological stations operated by NOAA's National Data Buoy Center
. Based on user demand, and where feasible, Offshore and Open Lake forecasts are broadcast as well.
The NOAA Weather Radio network provides near continuous coverage
of the coastal U.S, Great Lakes, Hawaii, and populated Alaska coastline. Typical coverage is 25 nautical miles offshore, but may extend much further in certain areas.
NOAA WEATHER RADIO ALL HAZARDS
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather
Service office. NWR broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Working with the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) Emergency Alert System , NWR is an "All Hazards" radio network, making it your single source for comprehensive weather and emergency information. In conjunction with Federal, State, and Local Emergency Managers and other public officials, NWR also broadcasts warning and post-event information for all types of hazards – including natural (such as earthquakes or avalanches), environmental (such as chemical releases or oil spills), and public safety (such as AMBER alerts or 911 Telephone outages).
Known as the "Voice of NOAA's National Weather Service," NWR is provided as a public service by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), part of the Department of Commerce. NWR includes 1025 transmitters, covering all 50 states, adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Pacific Territories. NWR requires a special radio receiver or scanner capable of picking up the signal. Broadcasts are found in the VHF public service band at these seven frequencies (MHz):
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NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MARINE PRODUCTS VIA NOAA WEATHER RADIO
NOAA Weather Radio
) frequencies & information
NOAA Weather Radio Frequencies
|162.400 MHz (WX2)
|162.425 MHz (WX4)
|162.450 MHz (WX5)
|162.475 MHz (WX3)
|162.500 MHz (WX6)
|162.525 MHz (WX7)
|162.550 MHz (WX1)
|Channel numbers, e.g. (WX1, WX2) etc. have no special significance but are often designated this way in consumer equipment. Other channel numbering schemes are also prevalent.
To expand NOAA Weather Radio coverage in the State of Alaska, the National Weather Service (NWS) and U.S. Coast Guard are partnering to establish a network of low-power five-watt NOAA Weather Radio transmitters at 25 USCG "high" sites located from the Dixon Entrance to Bristol Bay. These low power transmitters operate on standard NWR frequencies under joint licensing with the NWS. See NWR at USCG Sites in Alaska
Locations of coastal NOAA Weather Radio stations are listed in the Station Listing and Coverage
Several NOAA Weather Radio transmitters operate as "Marine-Only", broadcasting marine information on a more rapid cycle than is possible with "All-Hazard" transmitters. These are typically established as part of a cooperative effort between the local marine community and the National Weather Service. For information on how to establish a "Marine-Only" NOAA Weather Radio transmitter in your area, contact the National Weather Service
Channel numbers, e.g. (WX1, WX2) etc. have no special significance but are often designated this way in consumer equipment. Other channel numbering schemes are also prevalent.
Many NOAA Weather Radio receivers are also programmed for three additional frequencies; 161.650 MHz (marine VHF Ch 21B), 161.775 MHz (marine VHF Ch 83B) and 163.275 MHz. The first two frequencies are used by Canada for marine weather broadcasts. 163.275 MHz was used by the National Weather Service for earlier weather broadcasts and later for internal coordination in the event of a power outage but is no longer in active use.
Most VHF marine radiotelephones have the ability to receive NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts. However, it is recommended that a separate NOAA Weather Radio receiver be carried aboard so that mariners may maintain a simultaneous watch on NOAA Weather Radio and marine VHF channels. Information on Rules Which Require Listening to your VHF Marine Radio
are available courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Telecommunications Information Webpage
Recorded voice broadcasts have been largely supplanted by a computer-synthesized voice.
to listen to a sample of a NOAA Weather Radio broadcast.
Efforts continue to both expand the coverage of the NOAA Weather Radio network and improve the audio quality. The older computer-synthesized voice was a product of 6-year-old technology and has been replaced in response to user demands for a clearer, more human-sounding voice system.
If you hear words in a broadcast which you feel need to have the pronunciation adjusted, forward your comments to the appropriate NWS forecast office
so they can attempt to improve the pronunciation.
STREAMING AUDIO, MP3 and PODCASTS
is available for several NOAA Weather Radio transmitting stations. The number of stations carried live on the Internet has thus far been limited to sites with sufficient computer capacity to support the additional information load, and commercial sites who rebroadcast the program. The NWS is exploring cost-effective methods of providing a source for central access of this information.
Experimental recorded MP3 and Podcast files are available for a limited number marine areas such as Alaska
. Check your local forecast office for availability
1050 Hz TONE ALERTS
An automated 1050 Hz tone is transmitted to automatically turn on compatible NOAA Weather Radio receivers when a severe weather situation exists in the transmitters coverage area. Many (but not all) NOAA Weather Radio receivers incorporate this feature. Many VHF marine radiotelephones incorporate this feature, however, some require an active NOAA Weather Radio channel must be selected and used in a non-scanning mode for the highest level of effectiveness. Therefore, it is again recommended that a separate NOAA Weather Radio receiver be carried aboard so that mariners may maintain a simultaneous watch on NOAA Weather Radio and marine VHF channels.
Caution! - In accordance with national policy, at forecaster discretion, the 1050 Hz tone may not be transmitted for marine events. This is done to avoid frequently alerting users ashore and rendering the system impractical as a warning system for a large segment of the population.
A digital encoding system incorporating newer technology known as Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) allows receivers equipped with the SAME feature to sound an alert for only certain weather conditions or within a limited geographic area such as a county.
As of yet, few VHF marine radiotelephones contain the SAME feature. These require an active NOAA Weather Radio channel be selected and used in a non-scanning mode for the highest level of effectiveness. It is therefore again recommended that a separate NOAA Weather Radio receiver be carried aboard so that mariners may maintain a simultaneous watch on NOAA Weather Radio and marine VHF channels.
When using, the NOAA Weather Radio receiver must be programmed to the proper frequency, SAME geographic codes(s), and SAME event codes(s), in order to function as intended.
SAME GEOGRAPHIC CODES
SAME geographic codes are used to program SAME-capable NOAA Weather Radio receivers to receive alert messages for user-specified areas.
For a listing of marine SAME geographic codes, see NOAA WEATHER RADIO County by County Coverage
or Marine Text Forecasts by Zone
. NOTE...Although SAME geographic codes exist for offshore forecast zones, Great Lakes MAFOR's and forecast synopses, they are not broadcast on NOAA Weather Radio. Marine SAME geographic codes do not presently utilize the 'County Sub-section' of the SAME geographic code, and therefore, the SAME geographic code for all marine zones begin with a leading zero.
Caution! - Mariners should be aware that many marine zones do not extend inland to include tributaries such as rivers and smaller bays. Mariners in these areas should program their NOAA Weather Radio with the SAME geographic code of the appropriate county.
It is further recommended that mariners also program their receivers with the SAME geographic codes of neighboring land and marine areas to maintain a greater level of weather awareness.
SAME GEOGRAPHIC CODES FOR MARINERS IN TRANSIT
For mariners in transit who are using NOAA Weather Radio receivers with SAME capability, it is recommended the radio be set to the 'All County Code Option' to avoid the need to continually reprogram the unit as the vessel moves along the coast to prevent the possibility of missing important warnings. In this mode, the receiver will alarm for all watches, warnings, and emergency messages much like a conventional warning alarm receiver ensuring the greatest margin of safety.
Caution! - Several NOAA Weather Radio SAME receivers contain a capability for receiving SAME alerts for all counties within a given state by setting the 'county code' portion of the SAME geographic code to '000', e.g. 024000 for the state of Maryland. However, SAME geographic codes for marine areas use pseudo-state codes as in the table below, and therefore, such a receiver will not alert for marine events unless properly programmed with the pseudo-state code for the user's marine area as follows:
Therefore for example, a mariner on Chesapeake Bay in Maryland using a NOAA Weather Radio with a SAME alert capability for receiving alerts for all counties within a given state, might wish to enter a SAME geographic code of '073000' to receive warnings of any marine weather event in the general area, rather than having to program the receiver for several neighboring marine zones.However, entering the SAME geographic code for Maryland, '024000', would not alert the user of any marine weather events.
SAME EVENT CODES
||Western North Atlantic Ocean, and along U.S. East Coast, from Canadian border south to Currituck Beach Light, NC.
||Western North Atlantic Ocean, and along U.S. East Coast south of Currituck Beach Light, NC, following the coastline into Gulf of Mexico to Bonita Beach, FL, including the Caribbean.
||Gulf of Mexico, and along the U.S. Gulf Coast from the Mexican border to Bonita Beach, FL
||Eastern North Pacific Ocean, and along U.S. West Coast from Canadian border to Mexican border
||North Pacific Ocean near Alaska, and along Alaska coastline, including the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska
||Central Pacific Ocean, including Hawaiian waters
||Western Pacific Ocean, including Mariana Islands waters
||South Central Pacific Ocean, including American Samoa waters
||Lake St. Clair
||St. Lawrence River above St. Regis
At present, consumer radio equipment incorporating SAME, generally alert by geographic area only and not for specific weather conditions (no user-programmable SAME event codes). If the receiver contains this feature, the mariner should program their receiver for the following SAME event codes which are applicable to marine zones. See Emergency Alert System/NWR-SAME Event Codes
and your receivers operating manual for further information on event codes, including those for non-weather events.
SAME Event Codes of most interest to mariners and coastal residents:
||SAME EVENT CODE
|Coastal Flood Watch
|Coastal Flood Warning
|Hurricane Local Statement*
|Severe Thunderstorm Watch
|Severe Thunderstorm Warning
|Severe Weather Statement
|Special Marine Warning
|Special Weather Statement
|Tropical Storm Watch*
|Tropical Storm Warning*
* Not applicable to Great Lakes and Alaska forecast areas